Monday, 4 May 2020

Tips For Encouraging A Love Of Reading In Children (Ad)

*This post was written in partnership with Reading Chest

Ever since I was a child, I have loved nothing more than getting lost in the pages of a good book.
Whether it was the whimsical adventures of a Roald Dahl character or the relatable pages of a Judy Blume or Jacqueline Wilson story, I was always at my happiest with a book in my hands.

My love of literature was always a thing of curiosity in my family, as I was the only keen reader amongst them so nobody was quite sure where I'd picked up the interest from. But wherever it came from, I was glad it had - books provided an escape from reality for me when school days had been troublesome, and a friend when my adolescent self felt lonely.

It was something I never outgrew, and although time to read can be difficult to come by when you have 3 young children to look after and a business to run - I still try my best to make it through at least a couple of pages every evening. 

If there is one gift I would most love to pass on to my children, it would be a love of reading. 

And now more than ever, with the vast majority of us spending our days behind closed doors - unable to physically go on the adventures we might like to, what a gift it is to be able to live vicariously through the escapades of others in the pages of fairy tales and adventure stories.

If, like me, you're keen for your little ones to develop a love of reading - read on for my top tips on how to encourage this.

*Discuss Your Own Love Of Reading With Them Often 

My children love to hear about the things I enjoyed doing when I was a child. They're forever asking me what my favourite games to play were, what toys I loved best and which movies from my childhood were the ones I watched again and again. And so I tell them often about the books I loved so much that I read them over and over again, to the point of wearing out the pages.  Books like Edith Nesbitt's The Cockatoucan, Susan Coolidge's What Katy Did and What Katy Did Next, the vast majority of Roald Dahl's many offerings and, my all time favourite, Little Women of course.

I find that discussing my own love of reading helps the children to understand how much enjoyment can be found in the pages of a book, and how many happy memories they can hold. Which in turn, I hope, will encourage them to want to find these childhood favourites of their own.

*Celebrate The Writers

I think it's so important to bring to life the writers of the books we read, as much as we do the characters. After all...isn't it a thing of wonder that the characters and scenarios created by these brilliant minds have, in so many cases, spanned centuries and lived for lifetimes beyond the mere mortals who dreamt them into existence?

Whenever we discover a new favourite from the classics, I've always taken a few minutes to chat about the writer and who they were - so many of them have interesting stories to be told about themselves, from the likes of Beatrix Potter to the tug-of-war between PL Travers and Walt Disney over the fate of Mary Poppins.  Now the children always ask about who the author of a book is, and love to read the "About" sections whenever they're available. And when World Book Day comes around, we always take the opportunity to pen a little letter of thanks to the creators of the books we've most enjoyed lately - something which I think helps them to appreciate the creativity that goes into the creation of a brilliant story.

*Use Movies To Bring Them To Life

Where young children are involved, I think that bringing favourite story book characters to life on the big screen can be such a positive thing. If you're struggling to encourage a love of reading in your little one, perhaps introducing the movie before the book could be the way to go.

Movies like Mary Poppins Returns, Frozen and Tangled can be great ones to get a child interested in a character and their story before introducing them to the book itself.

*Read Aloud & Often

Reading aloud is something I've started to do more of with my three lately, and it's been lovely to see my eldest son (who is 7) start to enjoy stories without the need for colourful pictures to hold his interest. I've found that read aloud story books help the children to use their imaginations more, and keep them interested for longer too.

Another key factor is to ensure that reading becomes very much a part of every day life wherever possible, keeping books accessible and on display. We have always made sure to read a story at bedtime, and now the children are getting a bit older they've started to ask if they can flick through a book on their own for ten minutes before they drop off too. 

*Include Reading In Your Days Out

I think it helps for children to realise that reading and writing can be great fun rather than just a chore or a skill they have to learn, and including literature in days out can be a great way to do this.

There are lots of ways you can do this - from visiting libraries to using audiobooks during car journeys. There are also lots of museums centred around writers which can be great fun to visit (the Roald Dahl museum is our favourite, and is well worth a visit!) as well as some lovely reading-focused childrens venues - one of our favourites is The Story Barn in Liverpool which holds regular read-aloud events, and is a lovely place to visit and spend some time exploring different stories.

*Rotate Books Often & Use A Subscription Service To Access Plenty Of New Ones

This is especially important when teaching children to read themselves, something which - as a home educating parent - I am solely responsible for and therefore quite pre-occupied with!

My eldest son, Tyne, was always quite a reluctant reader - having had some experiences in his short time at school which knocked his confidence and put him off. But now, I'm pleased to say that he has grown a great deal in confidence and is a very enthusiastic and capable reader. I think that providing access to a wide range of reading books was key to keeping him interested and engaged with reading, and contributed massively to helping him to grow in ability. But of course this can be difficult to do when you take the cost of reading books into account.

My middle child has just turned 5, and is now starting to learn to read too so we need to have access to plenty of reading books for their very different stages of reading. 

One service that can be very beneficial for this is Reading Chest who offer a by-post reading book rental service for 4-9 year olds, giving you the chance to access a huge selection of banded reading books from the recognised reading schemes used in schools such as Oxford Reading Tree & many others, without the cost of buying them.

Upon signing up, you are able to select your child's reading band (if you're not sure you can go by their age group, it's easy to change it if you find the books aren't quite the right level for your child and you can view sample pages on the website too)  and you're then sent 4 books by post.

Once you've read some of the books, you can return them using the pre-paid envelope to swap them for new ones! You can swap up to 3 books at a time, which means you should always have one book at home.

Book swaps are sent out on the same day that they're received back by Reading Chest, so it won't be long before your new ones land on your doormat.

There are 3 different membership levels available which offer different numbers of swaps per month at varying price points.

There are no due dates or late fees to worry about, and you have the option of customising your book preferences on the website - creating a "Favourites" list of preferred titles which Reading Chest will do their best to send to you as soon as they're available, or you can also add books you're not so keen on to your Book Bin so that you won't recieve them.

You can read more about our experience of Reading Chest in detail here or find out more at

However you go about it, I think we can all agree that developing a love of reading is one of life's greatest pleasures.

I wish you and your children many happy literary adventures together.

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